Leakage Diagnostics, Sealant Longevity, Sizing and Technology Transfer in Residential Thermal Distribution Systems

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This field study concentrated on measurement of duct leakage to outside the conditioned space because this is most useful in energy calculations, e.g., proposed ASHRAE Standard 152P (ASHRAE 1997). For room by room load/comfort requirements, the total duct leakage (including leaks to conditioned space) is more appropriate, particularly for additional comfort considerations. The objective of this field study is to help to identify major sources of uncertainty and to quantify the trade-offs between different test methods. The identification of the areas requiring significant improvement will aid in future development of duct leakage test methods. For example, during the course of this study a new method for correcting house pressure tests to account for the presence of duct leakage in measured envelope leakage was developed. Each of the measurement techniques investigated has resulted from a different set of priorities and hence compromises. Thus each one of them is measuring a different physical quantity, although they all report the same parameter — duct leakage to outside at operating conditions. Given that real houses do not meet all of the simplifying assumptions that must be made to achieve similarity, the same numbers from each test method are not expected. Potentially these differences can be quite large and one of the benefits of field measurement is that the differences in the measurements helps put a realistic bound on how different some of these leakage diagnostics may be. To evaluate current duct leakage diagnostic methods, field tests were performed in 17 houses. The field tests were divided into two parts. The first part was performed in occupied S.F. Bay Area houses. The second part was performed in new unoccupied houses (some with unfinished interiors) in Irvine, CA. In the Bay Area, nine houses were tested using four diagnostic techniques.

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